Play Village of the Damned

Play Village of the Damned

Jeffrey Kluger once said “kids are anarchy writ large”. And if you’ve ever taken your offspring to a children’s play village, that’s exactly what you’ll witness: the complete breakdown of order. A festival of chaos.

Continue reading…

From Bing to the Black Death

From Bing to the Black Death

I have various recollections of being genuinely scared by things when I was a child. After seeing Jaws on TV in 1981, I remember leaping from the bedroom door to the safety of my bed – pronking like a springbok – because in my seven-year-old mind, the blue carpet was ‘the sea’. (And Quint’s gruesome death has always stayed with me.)

Continue reading…

Number two

Number two

Before my second son was born, I experienced genuine concern that I might not have enough love to lavish on another child. For some reason I started to think that love was something quantifiable, something finite, that I could potentially run out of. To illustrate this point in a slightly stomach-churning David Cronenberg style, it felt like my shirt was concealing a pulsating, fleshy gauge, clumsily grafted onto my chest, which would show a crimson-coloured liquid at dangerously low levels. I already had a son that I adored and doted on, so I panicked that I would fall short for ‘Number Two’. Where would I find all that extra love?

Continue reading…

A skeleton staff of knights

A skeleton staff of knights

“What is a knight without a sword? This isn’t a riddle, by the way; this is a serious point. A knight without a sword is just a bloke clattering around a castle in cumbersome armour, sounding like a looped recording of a drunk trying to climb out of a builder’s skip full of venetian blinds. He may as well cart a plinth around the bailey all day, wowing children with a human statue routine, while occasionally retreating to the garderobe to daydream forlornly of battles he will never fight and quests he will never embark upon!”

At this point, a hand rests gently on my shoulder and I’m helped back into my seat. “We’re just doing a round of introductions first,” says the group leader, as everyone in the healing circle looks on sympathetically at my puce, irate face. I quietly apologise to the group and return a lady’s umbrella, which I’d rudely snatched and held aloft.

Continue reading…

Sacrificial offerings to the giant pig god

Sacrificial offerings to the giant pig god

My wife and I recently went on a train journey to take my two-year-old son to see Peppa Pig and George, courtesy of my very lovely and thoughtful mother-in-law. I’m a father now, you see. So this is how I occasionally spend my time.

Our journey began at Kidderminster Severn Valley Railway station, where we immediately joined the end of a long queue of families. “Hell is other people,” as Jean-Paul Sartre once said, which is why, in spite of the quaintness of the station, it’s how I imagine Brief Encounter would’ve looked if it had been produced by the Channel 5 documentary team behind the series Neighbours from Hell, High on Spice, Hacked Down My Conifers.

Continue reading…

I have a son…and I’m writing about it. Sorry.

I have a son…and I’m writing about it. Sorry.

You have to believe me: I never planned to write anything about becoming a father. I’ve obviously written the obligatory Facebook post, in which I efficiently announced my son’s arrival and immediate retirement from social media, but I didn’t want to dribble on about it too much. It was my brother-in-law’s recent admission that he can’t really remember anything about the very early months of his sons’ lives that prompted me to scribble down some thoughts. Both he and my sister claimed that these first few gruelling weeks of fatherhood will eventually be purged from my mind in order to make the thought of having a second child seem like a good idea. So I’m writing this now before the last few weeks of my life disappear down the memory hole.

So here’s the abridged version from the beginning.

Continue reading…